I've taken great care to hold frets with my fingertips in a position that they don't come into contact with other strings. Every time I try and do a pulloff though, it stops the string below, kind of like an upside down rest stroke. Clearly this is because I am pulling in a direction directly parallel to the fretboard but any other angle fails to produce a clear, loud sound.

Am I doing this right?

  • When you say you are pulling paralell to the fretboard do you mean you are pulling "down" towards the edge of the fretboard or "up" and away from the fretboard? Commented Jan 17, 2012 at 18:06
  • Towards the edge of the fretboard. Commented Jan 19, 2012 at 15:25

3 Answers 3


I try to sort of press enough to "hook" into a portion of my callus, and then I can pull at a more upward angle, maybe 50º or so. If done too hard, the string'll buzz against the fret for the first few vibrations, but that's the only negative I've found. However guitar's a secondary instrument for me, so I don't play as much as I wish; you may have much thicker calluses that won't allow this technique to work as well.

  • This is pretty much what I do too. It's almost a picking motion.
    – user28
    Commented Jan 17, 2012 at 19:06
  • Neato! I had never done it like that before. Commented Jan 19, 2012 at 15:23

When you perform a pulloff, the cleanest sound will come from pulling across the fretboard, so you should aim to move your finger in this direction at first (or close to it), however you need to rapidly change this into a movement away from the fretboard if you want to avoid the next string.

Things that can make this easier:

  • Keeping your fingers vertical to the fretboard, a more classical position than the generally slumped 'rock guitar' position - this will reduce the amount of finger near other strings

  • Practice a slightly more angled pulloff - increasing speed and 'sharpness' here can give you a note similar to a horizontal pulloff in clarity

  • 'Hooking' as @Josh mentioned can help with the attack

Also you could look at technological solutions - a compressor can bring hammer-ons and pull-offs to the same level, which is why they are used a lot when guitarists record long tapped/pulled runs


You need to press and release as close to "straight down" as you can get.

Imagine a set of 3D graph axes, x, y and z:

enter image description here

The strings are parallel with the x axis. The frets are parallel with the z axis.

You should aim for your fingers to come down parallel with the Y axis.

When you pull off, you should lift them away from the fretboard, following the Y axis.

If this doesn't sound clear, you're not pulling off quickly or cleanly enough. Keep practising.

If you're holding the guitar properly, your fingers will naturally come down onto the fretboard in the right direction. The difficulty with holding the guitar properly, however, is that you can't see the fretboard clearly, since it's pretty much facing away from you.

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